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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval. - George Santayana

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Final 2020 Tirenno-Adriatico team reports

We posted the report from GC winner Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team with the results.

Rafal Majka's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

On the last stage along the coast around San Benedetto del Tronto, the peloton took on a 10 km long individual time trial on a flat course. Rafał Majka, who started the stage as second overall, at only 16 seconds behind the GC leader, had a good chance to finish the Italian stage race today on the podium.

Pascal Ackermann opened the race against the clock for the team, while his Polish teammate left the start ramp more than two hours later. Maciej Bodnar, best-placed BORA - hansgrohe rider on the day, took 11:34 minutes to complete the course. In the end, the Italian F. Ganna crossed the finish line with the winning time of 10:42, while Rafal stopped the clock with a time of 11:45 and with that took third place in the GC.

In addition to his two stage wins and a second place on stage six, Pascal Ackermann prevailed in the points classification. With Rafał, who took second and third places on important mountain stages and finished third in the GC, and Matteo Fabbro taking third place on the penultimate stage as well as the most combative prize, the team from Raubling completes a highly successful week in Italy.

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka finsihed third. Sirotti photo

From the Finish Line:
"Honestly, I'm a little bit disappointed that I slipped down a place in the GC. After today's stage I had hoped that I could do a little better. But I can still be satisfied with a podium place in the end. This race showed me that my form is really good again, as I was able to mix it up and be right up there on the most important mountain stages, taking a couple of podium places. That’s of course quite a good sign of things to come. The entire team performed well here and we are now fully motivated and are looking forward to taking on our next races." - Rafal Majka

"I’m really happy to be able to take the points jersey home. I had great success here and the race was not only good for the legs, but also for the confidence. Now I know that I can once again mix it up with the very best, and I'm relieved that the race went so well. Now I have two weeks to recover and then I'm off to the BinckBank Tour. This year, everything in cycling is different, so you never know exactly what the next week will bring, but my next big goal is the Vuelta, and I’m really looking forward to it." - Pascal Ackermann

"Pascal’s first two wins strengthened our confidence quite a lot, and the team continued to work very well together over the next few difficult stages. We’ve come out of the event with six podium places in eight stages, as well as third place overall with Rafa, which is a great achievement in one of the biggest stage races in the sport. Pascal was also able to take home the points jersey, and Matteo also received the prize for the most combative rider, another impressive result. The team now has a very successful week behind it, and we’re looking forward to taking to the Giro with a similar team composition.“ Jens Zemke, Sports Director

Here's the report from stage eight winner Filippo Ganna's INEOS-Grenadiers team:

Filippo Ganna stormed to victory on the stage eight time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico to cap off a dominant final day performance from the INEOS Grenadiers that saw Geraint Thomas finish second overall.

Ganna set a new course record of 10:42 on the 10.1km course, beating his nearest rival Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) by 18 seconds, with teammate Rohan Dennis third.

Thomas also put in a strong performance to finish fourth and move up to second in the General Classification, leapfrogging Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgroohe) to finish behind race winner Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

Filippo Ganna

Filippo Ganna on his way to winning the final stage. Sirotti photo.

Filippo Ganna:
"My performance took me a little bit by surprise as the last rider to have the course record was Fabian Cancellara. It's really important for me to take this victory and personal best on this circuit.

"Ahead of next week I will aim to recover well and arrive at the World Championships TT with as much energy as possible, ready to try and get on the podium again.

"At the Giro, there is a chance for me on the first time trial, but the second one is a little bit harder and we will look to save energy to support Geraint Thomas in the GC. Our goal for the Giro is G, and then hopefully I can arrive at the final stage TT in Milan with a little bit of energy - we’ll see." 

Geraint Thomas:
“It was good, it felt like I did a good effort and judged it quite well. You always pick it apart a bit, and obviously I didn’t have another 17 seconds in me, but I definitely feel like I had a bit more in the tank.

“It’s really encouraging after eight days of racing, especially after the start of the 2020 season version 2.0. I feel a lot better now and it’s encouraging that I feel I could improve.

“Obviously I never thought it was possible to get 40 seconds in 10km, but i’m happy with how that went. I’m also happy for the Ganna-dier, motoring along, proving to us all why he’s called that.

“It’s just what I needed, eight really hard days of racing, time to rest up now and soak up that work. I feel like I’ve got a bit more to come as well so I’m really looking forward to a good October.”

CCC Team has Covid-19 positive at Tirreno-Adriatico

The team sent me this:

CCC Team has withdrawn Łukasz Wiśniowski and Szymon Sajnok from Tirreno - Adriatico due to a suspected case of SARS Covid-19.

Wiśniowski withdrew from stage seven after developing mild symptoms during the stage and underwent a rapid test on Sunday evening which indicated a positive result. Wiśniowski will undergo a PCR test to confirm the result.

As per CCC Team’s Covid-19 policy, Wiśniowski’s roommate Szymon Sajnok has automatically been withdrawn from racing and will also undergo a PCR test.

In consultation with the Tirreno - Adriatico race medical team, all remaining CCC Team riders and staff present at the race underwent rapid testing twice on Sunday evening and Monday morning with all tests returning negative results and clearance to continue racing issued by RCS.

CCC Team Chief Medical Officer Dr Max Testa provided the following update:
“Łukasz Wiśniowski presented with mild symptoms while racing on stage seven of Tirreno - Adriatico. As per CCC Team’s Covid-19 policy, Wiśniowski was immediately removed from the race and underwent a rapid test which indicated a positive result. Wiśniowski has been isolated from the team, along with his roommate Szymon Sajnok and his therapist, and will undergo a PCR test to confirm the result. This is a situation we have prepared for since the racing season resumed and we will respect all necessary protocols should further testing confirm a positive case,” Dr. Testa said.

NTT Pro Cycling announces Tour of Luxembourg line-up

Here's the release the team sent me:

The UCI 2.Pro Tour of Luxembourg will take place over 5 road stages, all similarly designed to suit the puncheurs and sprinters that can get over the short sharp climbs

NTT Pro Cycling  is set to line up for the Tour of Luxembourg, which gets underway on 15 September and ends after 5 days of racing, on 19 September.

The UCI 2.Pro Tour of Luxembourg will take place over 5 road stages, all similarly designed to suit the puncheurs and sprinters that can get over the short sharp climbs.

NTT Pro Cycling will take to the start with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Ben King, Danilo Wyss, Jay Thomson, Dylan Sunderland and Michael Carbel.

Janse van Rensburg will be one of the protected riders for NTT Pro Cycling throughout the race, as the parcour certainly suits his characteristics. With only 6-rider teams, the stages will be hard to control on the punchy climbs, which should also make for a very exciting 5 days of racing.

Janse van Rensburg

Janse van Rensburg racing in the 2016 Tirreno-Adriatico. Sirotti photo

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg - NTT Pro Cycling:
"I am really looking forward to the next week in Luxembourg. I have been feeling good on the bike in training and looking at the stages in Luxembourg, there should be a few opportunities to fight for victory. I think as a team we are all eager to show some good performances!"

Harry Sweeny to sign, Harm Vanhoucke to re-sign with Lotto Soudal

The team sent me this release:

Two young riders, Australian Harry Sweeny (22) and Belgian Harm Vanhoucke (23) reached an agreement with WorldTour Team Lotto Soudal until end 2022. Sweeny is currently riding for Lotto Soudal Development Team while Vanhoucke is already part of Lotto Soudal since July 2018.

Harry Sweeny, from Warwick (Queensland, Australia) lives in Meerhout (Belgium) during the season. As a winner of a stage in the Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour, he joined the Lotto Soudal U23 team in 2020, where he proved to be a versatile rider.

“I am a particularly a rider for the classics and a good lead-out guy, but I can climb as well. In the last Tour Bitwa Warszawska and Baby Giro the team was apparently more than happy with my performance and commitment for the team. I am super excited to join the WorldTour team, where I will find my compatriot Caleb Ewan. We know each other quite well. He can count on me”, explains Harry Sweeny.

Harm Vanhoucke came to the pro category with high references as winner of the Piccolo Giro di Lombardia, Flèche Ardennaise and stage wins in Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc and Giro della Valle d'Aosta Mont Blanc. Harm is a climber.

“My first season in the team didn’t go as expected, as I suffered from anemia. The team gave me the necessary time to recover and with the help of my trainer Paul Van Den Bosch we fought back”, tells Harm Vanhoucke.

Two weeks ago Vanhoucke won the mountains classification in the Tour de Poitou-Charentes. Earlier this season he finished 12th in Tour de l’Ain and 10th in Vuelta a Andalucía Ruta del Sol.

“I feel good with Lotto Soudal. We have a nice family atmosphere in the team. Now I’m heading to the Tour de Luxembourg. After the Belgian Championships I will do my first Tour of Italy. I look forward to my first Giro”, concluded Harm Vanhoucke.

Annemiek Van Vleuten extends Giro Rosa race lead with late attack on stage four

Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this update:

World champion Annemiek van Vleuten extended her overall race lead at the Giro Rosa for the second day in-a-row with a late attack on stage four.

The defending champion took the opportunity to distance her rivals on the technical final climb to the finish, crossing the line in third place behind a two-rider breakaway.

Annemiek Van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten earlier this year at the Het Nieuwsblad race.

Stage four marked the longest stage of the race, with 170km on the menu, plus a 12km neutral roll out before the action got underway on the outskirts of Assisi. With a long day ahead, the pace was steady in the opening kilometres before the first attacks started to roll off the front.

A number of short-lived solo moves managed to get clear of the peloton, but it was all back together by the time the race reached the categorised climb at Assiano. The rough roads and steep incline put several riders into difficultly on the ascent as more attacks came.

Lizzy Banks (Équipe Paule Ka) and Eugenia Bujak (Alé BTC Ljubljana) then forged clear, opening up a gap of more than four minutes on the peloton, with two groups of two attempting to bridge across with 70km remaining.

The leading duo continued to stretch out their advantage over the bunch, with the difference going out to 5’30” as they moved inside the final 60km. Mitchelton-SCOTT were happy to see the pair stay away until the finish, with neither rider posing a threat on the general classification.

The impetuous was then on other teams to chase if they had ambitions of winning the stage, an ideal situation for Van Vleuten and her teammates. The gap began to come down as the leaders approached Tivoli and it was below two minutes as the road began to head uphill towards the finish line.

But there was no catching the twosome, with Banks attacking in the final kilometre to take the stage win. Meanwhile, behind, Van Vleuten launched an attack on the narrow, cobbled climb, with the 37-year-old gapping her rivals on her way to third place.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
"It was a really long day, really hard. My focus was just to be in position with 2.7-kilometres to go when it got more narrow when we turned to the left. I thought if I’m good position I go for it, otherwise I go safely to the finish, I didn’t want something like yesterday.

"In the final I was nervous, yesterday I almost lost time. So I was quite nervous in the finish because I knew you could lose time there if you’re not well positioned, so that’s why I was so relieved that I could even put some time into my competitors.

"I’m super happy that I had really good legs in the final, it’s a really good sign of my shape. My team did a really good job today to defend it. It was really a stage where you cannot do it by yourself."

Giro Rosa 2020 Stage 4 – Results:
1. Lizzy Banks (Équipe Paule Ka) 4:27:21
2. Eugenia Bujak (Alé BTC Ljubljana) +0:07
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +1:10

Giro Rosa 2020 – General Classification after Stage 4:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 12:35:23
2. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM) +1:56
3. Anna van der Breggen (Boels – Dolmans) +2:03

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